Representatives of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Columbia University Visit Chautauqua County

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From left to right: Steve Kilburn, Project Director, HEALing Communities Study (HCS) in Chautauqua County; James David, MS, Senior Project Director, HCS in NY; Dr. Timothy Hunt, Co-investigator, HCS in NY; Dr. Nabila El-Bassel, Professor of Social Work (Columbia University) and Principal Investigator, HCS in NY; Dr. Scott Cunningham, Medical Director, Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene (CCDMH) Addiction Services; PJ Wendel, Chautauqua County Executive; Dr. Redonna Chandler, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director of the HCS; Alicia Snow, PA, The Chautauqua Center; Andrea Czajkowski, MBA PMP, NIDA Program Analyst for the HCS; Julia Apperson, NP, Jamestown Psychiatric PC, and Dr. Jennifer Villani, NIDA Associate Director of the HCS.

Article Contributed by
Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene

The many efforts underway to address addiction in Chautauqua County were highlighted recently for leaders from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). On Monday, October 24, 2022, the Chautauqua Substance Abuse Response Partnership hosted HEALing Communities Study leaders from NIDA headquarters and Columbia University. The HEALing Communities Study (HCS) is an ambitious partnership of leading federal and state agencies, academic institutions, and local communities working to reduce opioid overdose deaths significantly. Chautauqua County is one of 67 communities across four states participating in the study.

“This was an exciting meeting with NIDA and I am pleased with the collaborative efforts we are taking to understand the issues causing the opioid epidemic in our communities,” said Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel.

“Hundreds of family members in our county have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one due to an overdose, and thousands of our residents have a chemical dependency,” said Steve Kilburn, Project Director of the HCS in Chautauqua County. “The ongoing crisis of addiction and overdoses requires concerted, coordinated efforts from multiple parties: treatment clinics and community agencies, formal organizations and informal support, from every level of government, partners in other communities and academic institutions, from those struggling with addiction, those in recovery, and their families – all working to address addiction and its consequences across the spectrum of prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction. We’re glad to have the support and resources of the HEALing Communities Study to help further enhance our many efforts.”

NIDA and Columbia University staff toured behavioral health agencies that provide treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services in Chautauqua County, including Safe Point Lighthouse, Brooks-TLC Healthcare, Evergreen Health, The Chautauqua Center, and the Mental Health Association.

The monthly meeting of the Chautauqua Substance Abuse Response Partnership, a coalition of the principal addiction service providers in the county, was also included in their visit. The coalition identifies and pursues strategic priorities to combat addiction in Chautauqua County. An overview and update on the current overdose awareness communications campaign and progress on the HEALing Communities Study initiatives were provided.

The day concluded with an opportunity for further discussion and information sharing among Chautauqua County leadership and key members of the HCS project.

Representing the HEALing Communities Study teams:

  • NIDA
  • Redonna Chandler, Ph.D. Project Director
  • Jennifer Villani, PhD. Health Scientist Administrator
  • Andrea Czajkowski, Program Analyst
  • Columbia University-Social Intervention Group
  • Nabila El-Bassel Ph.D. Director
  • Timothy Hunt, Ph.D., MSW, LCSW Associate Director
  • James David, Senior Project Director

To learn more about the HEALing Communities Study and to help end overdoses in Chautauqua County, visit HEALTogetherNY.org/Chautauqua or @CombatAddictionCHQ.com.

To view background information about the HEALing Communities Study, visit https://chautauquacounty.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/MH/Ec5jjBDMfE9Gh zLBoefazfsB13vItib-OioJgFn6L9VkJA .